Monday, 18 February 2013

RIP Richard Briers 1934 - 2013

Alas we have lost another entertainment great this weekend as the news revealed the sad loss of Richard Briers yesterday aged 79.

Briers was a British institution. A sitcom legend of four decades, he'll be best remembered for his role as Tom Good in The Good Life, but let's not forget the brilliant Ever Decreasing Circles, The Other One, Marriage LinesIf You See God, Tell Him, Down To Earth and his last serial role at the BBC in their early 00s Sunday night light drama Monarch Of The Glen.

Briers was also a great straight actor being something of a favourite of the playwright Alan Ayckbourn during his most prolific years, he even appeared alongside Raquel Welch in the 1960s spy caper Fathom and provided the voice of Fiver in animated classic, Watership Down. In the late 1980s he gained a second act to his career, thanks to Kenneth Branagh, as a notable Shakespearean actor with roles in Henry V, Much Ado About Nothing and Hamlet on screen and taking the title role of King Lear on the stage. He also appeared in Branagh's big screen take on Frankenstein

One of his very last roles was in the film Cockneys Vs Zombies which I saw just after Christmas and reviewed on here. Typically, he provided the film with its biggest laughs; an inspired comic performer til the end.

He was also extremely committed to charity and served as President of The Parkinson's Disease Society (his cousin, the actor Terry-Thomas had died of Parkinsons) as well as serving on the board of TOFS (Tracheo-Oesophogeal Fistula Support) He was awarded the OBE in 1989 and a CBE in 2003.

In 2003 after smoking what he estimated to be half a million cigarettes he finally quite the habit, but in one of his final interviews in which he revealed he was suffering from emphysema he admitted that "the ciggies have got me"  he died at his home yesterday.

He will be very sorely missed.


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